Today, it all just seemed way too much. Too much brokenness, too much darkness, too much hopelessness, too many people living in it.
I was placed at a public primary clinic this week called Guguletu. If you walk in to Guguletu, you have to first go through the security at the front gate, where you'll be searched for weapons or sharp metals. Inside, there are rows of pews that sit in too small rooms, each pew uncomfortably full of waiting patients. If you ask these people how long they've been waiting to see a doctor, they'll tell you that they got there at around 4:00 that morning. If you ask the nurses how many HIV positive patients they treat, they'll say around 80%. There's a big hole in the ceiling leaving the insulation of the building exposed. The doctors say that roughly 300 patients come through per day.
When the patients go home, they're typically going to government housing, which are typically glorified, overcrowded shacks. Most of them have to walk to the clinic, which can be very hard if you have arthritis or live far away.
Looking at it, it seems like my hands are way too small to mend the brokenness. There would be no way for me to fix it all, and if I know myself, that means that my heart will be chronically broken.
WHY does it have to be this way for these people, and why does it seem like people don't care? Why is it that I can go home to Tennessee and crawl into my warm bed at night, safe and free, able to do whatever it is I want to do, and these people are struggling to even have adequate water supply? I don't get it. Why?
But, here's the thing. The people I've met at Guguletu have taught me more than I can ever repay them for. Because not once did I ever hear someone complain about waiting over 5 hours to see a doctor or about how hard their circumstances were. No. They were smiling, talking to me about their children, eager to tell me their stories-- every single one of them.
I literally complain if my shower is lukewarm. What a wake up call.
I think I went in to this trip thinking that someday I wanted to be these peoples' superwoman. I wanted to come and fix them up and patch up their problems. When I was through with them, they were going to be shiny and mess-free. I think sometimes I can be a little delusional.
No, I don't want to fix them. I want to love them with my whole heart. I want to walk with them when their son gets stabbed due to gang violence, when they find out they're HIV positive, when they learn that their liver is shot due to alcohol abuse. I want to love them so much that they feel the warmth of it. I want the warmth of it to linger for weeks and months and years at a time.
I can't fix, but I can love. And if I love even one person, I have to believe that it makes a difference. I have to believe that it's worth all the heartbreak and unfairness and brokenness-- I have to believe that it's worth battling all of these things for. Genuine love radiates. It's a lighthouse for the lost at sea, it's home for the homeless.
It may not fix, but it can transform. I have to believe that.
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<p>Well hello there, I'm just a Jesus loving, coffee drinking, adventure seeking, Spongebob watching new adult who belly laughs at dad jokes and genuinely enjoys reading National Geographic. Nice to meet you.</p>